Woman with a Mango, Paul Gauguin, 1892
Lucky Seattle to have scored the current featured exhibit at The Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise. What a lovely way for visitors to wile away a cloudy afternoon (as suggested in my last post). I came away feeling so enriched by the dazzling colors of Gauguin’s paintings, so appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about his life and peripatetic lifestyle.
From the program notes and audio guide to the exhibit, we learn that Gauguin’s wanderings began early when as a toddler he set sail for Peru with his family to live with relatives for four years. As a young merchant marine, his travels took him to Brazil, India, the Arctic Circle and the United Kingdom. His settling down period came with his return to Paris when he married a Danish woman and began a career as a stockbroker while painting on the side.
But Gauguin’s domestic bliss and banking success were interrupted by the stock market crash after which he developed a lifelong obsession with art. Gauguin moved his family to Copenhagen and returned to Brittany, before continuing on to Martinique to paint. He returned to France and later spent time with Van Gogh in Arles.
Still restless, Gauguin traversed the globe in search of a place of unspoiled beauty, an idyllic landscape far away from France and impressionism where he could paint in earnest.
The exhibit follows Gauguin’s trail to Tahiti and his adaptation of Polynesian sources in his artwork, from carvings to sculptures to paintings. Ultimately, Gauguin’s quest for a simpler time away from French colonial influences led him to an even more remote location, the Marquesas Islands, where he died and was buried in 1903.
After wallowing in the sunny yellows and brilliant blues of Gauguin’s paintings, you’ll (almost) forget about those gray Seattle skies, dreaming instead of an unforgettable South Sea island paradise.
Seattle Art Museum Downtown
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101-2003
Tuesday–Sunday: 10 am–5 pm
Thursday & Friday: 10 am–9 pm
Monday: closed (except for Members Mondays)
Extended hours Monday, April 23 (yes, Monday!) to Sunday, April 29 from 10 am to 9 pm.
- $23 adults
- $20 Senior (62+), Military (with ID)
- $18 (students with ID) and youth (13–17)
- FREE for children 12 and under
- FREE for SAM members
- $3 off Thursday and Friday 5–9 pm
Includes access to the SAM collections and installations and a free audio guide.
Do you have a favorite Gauguin painting, Wanderboomers? Share with us here.